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Hard to be a God

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Akella
Developer: Burut CT

About Judy

As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.

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'Hard to be a God' Announced

by Judy on Dec. 2, 2004 @ 8:52 a.m. PST

Hard to be a God is a role playing game with adventure and espionage elements based on a storyline of the novel with the same name by Strugatsky brothers. The main hero is a graduate of a medieval secret service highschool. His mission is to scout and report the situation in the Kingdom of Arcanar, an independent anarchical state. The character is a real professional who took the best course in combat and diplomatic training. He’s strong, sly and intelligent, he’s mightier than the whole Arcanar, but this world still has some surprises for him.

The game utilizes a 3D-engine with free rotating camera. Wounds, weapons, armor and different equipment are shown on the characters’ models.

One of the gameplay features is the interference of two epochs in the game universe – the medieval and the alternative future. This provides the peculiar variety of different weapons and armors – from swords and bows to miniguns, from full plates to force fields – and equipment like binoculars and night vision goggles at characters’ disposal. The standard RPG equipment “doll” is amplified with slots for sword shoulder-belts and hidden weapon scabbards on wrists and arms.

The combat system features many different combos and special attacks (stunning, disarming, etc.) provided by some abilities and special weapon types. During a battle the character can be wounded badly which will diminish his attributes and require long recover, and even lose a limb or be decapitated by a strong attack of the opponent.

A player controls only the main character. The rest of the party is managed by orders. The volunteers traveling with the main character can obey or disobey orders depending on the form the order was given in (strict order, persuasion, intimidation, etc.), while the mercenaries will obey any order given in the proper form.

The Kingdom of Arkanar is divided into many locations. The party will travel between the locations using Arcanum-styled global map. The movement speed will be influenced with the world relief. The party can also ride mounts to move faster. The new locations can be revealed from dialogues with NPCs.

The trading mechanism features selling and buying items for different currencies (universal currency, irukanian gold and so on) or bartering them if both sides are satisfied with the offer.
One of the most prominent features of the game is of course the true spirit of the Strugatskys’ novel. The game universe, the dark medieval atmosphere, the key figures from the novel, the Kingdom of Arkanar, – the whole world from the book is being carefully created anew under the supervision of one of its demiurges, Boris Natanovich Strugatsky.

The great variety of social strata typical to medieval age provides another game feature which can be called “the true role playing”. Depending on a situation or an environment, a character can choose a role to play, pretending to be a noble man or a mere citizen or a member of some guild. This allows him to gain trust of NPCs with different alignments. A player can create several legends for each role of his character. The character will introduce himself with this legend to NPCs. If the truth behind the legend is revealed, the player can make up another legend reading books and talking to other NPCs.

The corrupted bureaucrats of Arkanar are easily bribed. This provides one more way of completing the game. For example if you need some papers to pass you may bribe the guard who demands the papers. A character can also buy the forged papers or make them by himself if he has proper skills.

Many gameplay elements and features are being discussed by the developers’ team and Boris Natanovich Strugatsky now.

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